That is good news for us today because none of us is worthy of God’s forgiveness or can earn His blessing. Salvation is a totally undeserved, free gift (Eph. 2:8–9).
Jacob is one of those Bible characters who, like Paul the Apostle, had a dynamic conversion experience.
His life story is almost one of two different lives, one before meeting with God and one after.
Before coming to know God he was totally unscrupulous and would cheat, lie and steal to get on in life – even if it involved deceiving his own brother and father.
Jacob was the perfect example of the self-centred person, someone who cared nothing for the feelings and rights of others.
He was completely self-reliant and viewed life as a competitive game where there were no rules.
Fulfilment came through acquisition and material wealth.
It is interesting therefore that God engineers a situation where Jacob meets his match in Laban, who cheats him not only of his wages but even of his desired wife.
In the end Jacob is forced to admit that without the Lord’s help he would not have prospered (Gen 31:42).
Wrestling with God
In Genesis 32:22–32 Jacob wrestles with God and is permanently changed by the experience.
Physically his hip is put out of joint and thereafter he walks with a limp.
The self-reliant Jacob has to learn that he cannot even walk without humbly leaning on a staff (Heb 11:21), and spiritually he learns not to rely on himself but to humbly lean on the Lord for strength and guidance (Prov 3:5–6).
Prince with God
His name is changed from Jacob meaning ‘Supplanter’ or ‘Cheat’, to Israel, ‘Prince with God’ or ‘God’s Soldier’.
It was after this experience that he built his first altar and named it the Altar of the God of Israel (Gen 33:20).
No longer was God to him the God of his ancestors Abraham or Isaac, but He was now personally the God of Israel – my God.
Some may wonder why God would choose to bless Jacob the cheat and liar instead of his brother.
It is important to remember however that Esau did despise his birthright for a pot of stew (Gen 25:29–34).
We need to be careful that we do not miss out on our spiritual inheritance through faith as children of God by turning to the things of the world for instant physical gratification.
Also we find an answer in Romans 9:10–16, where it shows that God will show mercy as He chooses and that very choice proves the nature of His mercy, which is totally undeserved.
That is good news for us today because none of us is worthy of God’s forgiveness or can earn His blessing.
Salvation is a totally undeserved, free gift (Eph 2:8–9).
Like Jacob we may be cheats, liars or even murderers, but God’s undeserved love reaches out to confront and change us to become princes with God and joint heirs with Christ.